My friend, Cindy Robinson, sent me a news article from the Globe & Mail and I thought I’d pass the highlights on to you.
It was written by Celia Milne and called “Why Exercising Outdoors is Better than Hitting the Gym”.
Now before I start, let me say that this article does NOT mean that I endorse skipping the gym altogether!! The gym is a great place to get everything done fast in one space and, as a Fitness Instructor (Cindy too!), I can’t help but have a soft spot for a good ol’ fashioned aerobics class. But there are some obvious advantages to being out-of-doors…
1. According to Dr. Alan Logan, a naturopath who is co-writing a book with Harvard doctor Eva Selhub, called Your Brain, On Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Health, Happiness and Your Mojo,
“Green exercise represents a low-cost way to lower stress and recharge the mental batteries. The health implications extend from depression and diabetes to workplace stress and cognitive decline of older adulthood.”
Other researchers from all over the world agree and have been studying the phenomenon of “green exercise” for some time.
A British study published this year in the journal Environmental Science and Technology concluded:
“Exercising in nature afforded people a greater feeling of revitalization and positive energy, as well as decreasing tension, confusion, anger and depression.”
In another study, the cruel folks at theUniversity of Michigan intentionally tired out 38 students with a bunch of cognitive tests and then had them immediately take a 50-minute walk in nature or through the concrete jungle. Those who walked in green space, performed better cognitively than those walking the concrete.
The study suggests that maybe downtown office workers should be encouraged to find a small patch of nature at lunch to walk in to improve their cognitive function. (Of course, city planners need to do their bit too.)
And from the other side of the world, recent Japanese studies show similar results. One study published in the journal Public Health this year found that
“being in green space had a positive and measurable effect on both the nervous system and the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the saliva of subjects”.
Other Japanese studies have found benefits from “shinrin-yoku” or forest-air bathing plus walking. A study published in 2010 found that forest bathing trips actually boosted immune function and kept it elevated for as much as 30 days while another found it to be an effective treatment for diabetes.
Back here in Canada, Kim Bergeron, who is a PhD candidate at Queen’s University inKingston, says it best,
“If we are not around vibrant, living things, it affects our psychological, social and physical being.”
So the question is, Are YOU getting outside everyday? It’s summer, so it’s easy to say emphatically YES!! But what about when the winter turns cool and then cold?
Then it takes discipline and a commitment to our health. And that brings me to my final note:
I want to congratulate all of those people who participated in the Ottawa Race Weekend. Especially my good friends Fran and Val from Carleton who finished their first marathon in 4 hours and 22 minutes. And Cindy Robinson did an amazing 2:08 on her 1/2 marathon.
While the race happens in May, they have been out for months in all kinds of weather training. It looks like they’ve been training their brains, their spirits and their bodies all at once!!
To Your Health!
The book written by Drs. Logan and Selhub will be available in the Spring of 2012 and published by John Wiley (Toronto).